Re: perishables in Chicago

Richard Hendrickson

From Tim Gilbert:

Perhaps Tony Thompson and/or Richard Hendrickson can comment further
upon reconsignment and diversion.
Tony's account in the PFE book covers about all that can be said about this
practice, in which the railroads made it possible for perishable shippers
to re-route a load at the last minute to the most desirable market, or to
hold it for brief periods awaiting market improvements, while the car was
in transit. The first few such diversions or holds were free, but the
charge for subsequent diversions was minimal and shippers often wired ten
or more diversion orders per car to the railroads in the process of trying
to outguess the market and get the best possible price for their produce.
Both PFE and SFRD bent over backwards to accomodate shippers in this
fashion, and presumably other reefer operators did likewise, generating a
vast amount of extra paperwork for car clerks all over the country. It was
a risky crapshoot for shippers; while they wanted to route their
perishables to the locations where they would bring the highest prices,
delays owing to diversions and holds could cause the produce to deteriorate
in quality while in transit, so it was usually unwise to abuse the

Richard H. Hendrickson
Ashland, Oregon 97520

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